The Netflix ten part documentary (series) has produced a rash of armchair detectives to include the filmmakers, Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos who, in their college years, ran across Steven Avery’s charges in the New York Times, 2005. This “true-crime saga [..] seethes with troubling question, according to Daniel Victor of the NY Times about “whether he “was framed by law enforcement officials.”
Meanwhile, the producers felt Avery “was uniquely positioned to take us and viewers from one extreme of the American criminal justice system to the other,” claims Ms. Ricciardi. The producers wanted to raise awareness and examine “allegations of police and prosecutorial misconduct, evidence tampering and witness coercion,” according to a press release about the series. Hello, what’s new?
Let’s see, Avery had 18 years taken from him for a previous rape charge, only to have DNA exonerate him, and then another charge of murder and mutilation dropped on him. But wait, now the murdered female’s boyfriend, Ryan Hillegas, is being looked at as her real murderer, while Avery sits in jail for life!
Avery’s attorney, Ms. Zellner, is requesting a new trial. Her key points state Mr. Hillegas definitely had “motive, opportunity and a connection to the crime that meets the Denny (third-party suspect) standard.” She cites 7 common errors overlooked by the prosecutor; such as, no alibi plus domestic violence against his girlfriend. Oh, the plot thickens! But what’s the real message? Can we read between the lines? What has this case and the documentary reveled about our justice system – evidence tampering, witness coercion, and prosecutorial misconduct? Yes, more documentaries should be filmed to expose injustices, and free the innocent.
Here are some facts. Mr. Avery’s wrongful conviction, based on mistaken identity, spurred Wisconsin and the Innocence Project to initiate a new ID protocol – the Avery Bill. Really. Maybe it was Mr. Avery’s 36 million dollar lawsuit against the state that prompted a new protocol. Yet again, maybe that lawsuit was Mr. Avery’s ultimate undoing. In an effort to nullify the lawsuit, it is alleged, Mr. Avery was charged anew! Will there be a sequel documentary? Hope so. Will the ex-boyfriend be charged for murder? Doubtful.
Just an FYI. The title of the documentary is “Making a Murderer” not Making of a Murderer. Think about it! The selection of words, it appears, may have been very deliberately chosen to preface the documentary’s theme. Your thoughts?
By Sharla Esparza